December 28, 2022 at 5:33 p.m.

Tying two passions together

Tying two passions together
Tying two passions together

By Mark [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Van Beck constructs rosaries from deer antlers

Leo Van Beck is passionate about deer hunting and reciting the rosary.

How he strings the two together is quite extraordinary.

Van Beck crafts rosaries using shed antlers and wood beads strung on string to complete the five-decade prayer companion.

Van Beck and his wife, Renee, live in Belgrade; Renee teaches kindergarten at Holy Family School.

The idea to craft rosaries derived from Van Beck’s father, Marti.

“When I was a little kid, I remember he made one for himself,” Van Beck said. “I also remember we would sit down and pray the rosary together as a family.”

This foundation of faith inspired Van Beck to first craft a rosary for his dad as a gift.

“The first one was rough,” Van Beck said. “I pulled that one apart and used some of the parts for the next one.”

That first rosary came a few years ago, and Van Beck has now crafted a handful, which have been given as gifts.

To begin, Van Beck collects shed antlers which are then cut to approximately one-half-inch beads. Each bead is sanded and drilled. Then, the beads are soaked in peroxide to whiten.

Van Beck uses the antler beads to comprise the 10 beads of each decade; small wood pieces are used as the spacers. Five beads are made from the base of the antler to anchor each decade; the Our Father is prayed on these beads.

The beginning of each rosary features a crucifix.

“I went online and found a big-sized rosary crucifix for the centerpiece,” Van Beck said. “Then, I took a part of a bigger antler and dremeled out the right size and fit in an oversized miraculous medal.”

The miraculous medal comes near the beginning of the rosary, before the first decade is recited.

“I have the cable go from that centerpiece and all the way around,” Van Beck said. “Then, I use cable crimps to attach the crucifix to the end.”

Searching for the correct-sized tines requires many antlers. Each completed rosary contains approximately 5-6 antlers. During the winter months, Van Beck will spend many hours in the woods looking for suitable sheds.

“I look for the smallest (antlers) available to keep the size (of the tines) smaller,” Van Beck said. “I can get a couple of beads off of each antler.”

Van Beck recalled the first rosary he made; he sanded all the antlers by hand. Now, he uses a belt sander and jigsaw to speed up the process.

“I don’t even want to know how many hours I put into that (first rosary),” he said. “It was a full weekend just doing (the sanding). … I can probably (make a rosary) in five to six hours.”

While Van Beck finds fulfillment in constructing the rosaries for others, reciting the rosary, for him, has become commonplace in his life.

“I wouldn’t say I prayed the rosary regularly on my own until a handful of years ago,” Van Beck said. “I sort of had a cool experience; it was during hunting season where I decided I would pray it for two weeks. I don’t know why. It was sort of on a whim to see what would happen, and I never stopped praying it. I pray it every single day now. There’s not a better way to live your faith and praise God than by praying the rosary.”

Van Beck said he finds himself praying the rosary when he awakes in the morning or while he is driving to work.

“I have so much to be thankful for and nothing to complain about,” he said. … “At the end of the day, it’s the least we can do.”

Van Beck said he intends to make more rosaries this winter.

“Overall, people think they are pretty cool,” he said. “I’ve had a couple people who want to make one themselves and have asked me how I did it.”

Recalling the first rosary his father made, Van Beck gives credit to his dad and mom, Audrey, for both their example of faith and their creativity.

“My mom is really artistic, and I remember she took a Dremel and made Jesus hanging on the cross (for Dad’s rosary),” Van Beck said. “That was really cool.”

So while each rosary requires many hours of concentration to complete, Van Beck is poised for the trade. After all, after years of reciting the rosary, Van Beck knows the fruits of his labor.

“I have days where it seems like a chore, but it’s an ‘I would be lost without it’ sort of thing,” Van Beck said. “I didn’t think I would end up praying it every single day at the time I started, but I can tell in my own life it has definitely led to a lot of good things.”



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